Charlie Justice lands small-town support from local Mayors, city leaders

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'He is an effective leader, a dynamic problem solver and a powerful voice for the Pinellas community.'

Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice has earned support from two local Mayors and a pair of city leaders as he seeks re-election to the District 3 seat.

Justice’s latest endorsers include South Pasadena Mayor Arthur Penny, Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson and Gulfport City Council members Paul Ray and April Thanos.

“I’ve known Charlie for many years and can think of no one better to serve as our County Commissioner,” Penny said. “Charlie listens when you speak, is straightforward in his responses, and has made the prosperity and future of Pinellas County, its cities, and citizens his number one goal while in office.”

Justice is facing opposition from two Republican challengers, who will face off in the August GOP Primary to determine which moves on for the chance to flip Justice’s seat red.

To Henderson, no change is needed.

“I have worked with Charlie for 15 years. He is an effective leader, a dynamic problem solver and a powerful voice for the Pinellas community,” Henderson said. We are lucky to have him serving our county.”

Ray called Justice a “proactive voice” for Pinellas residents, while Thanos added that he “has represented Gulfport with pride and heart.”

“He has always been ready to listen to our needs and then does the hard work to bring real results,” she said.

The latest endorsements build on an already extensive list of support for Justice, including most recently from state Sen. Darryl Rouson. He also has support from leaders in Pinellas Park and Lealman, including Pinellas Park Mayor Sandra Bradbury, City Council members Ricky ButlerTim Caddell and Patti Gail Reed, retired Police Chief Michael Haworth and Lealman Fire District Commissioners Kathleen Quinn Litton and Jorge Mercado.

Other backers include five members of St. Petersburg City Council and a bipartisan list of endorsements that included former colleagues on the County Commission, Susan Latvala and Karen Seel, both Republicans.

Justice also secured an endorsement earlier this month from U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor. He also has support from St. Pete Mayor Ken Welch, a former colleague on the Commission and a close friend, and former St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman.

Republicans running for the GOP nomination to challenge Justice include government watchdog Vincent Nowicki and new entrant David Scott Leatherwood, a local influencer who goes by the name “Brokeback Patriot” on Instagram, a reference to him being a gay Republican.

Leatherwood’s entrance into the race may be good news for Justice, forcing Nowicki to now use resources to battle through a Primary.

Nowicki has, as of the end of March, raised nearly $55,000 for the race. Justice has raised nearly $33,000, though officially entered the race three months after Nowicki.

And Justice will now have to overcome a voter registration disadvantage, with about 30,000 more Republican voters in the county than Democrats. While Justice’s seat includes parts of west St. Pete and Lealman, it is elected countywide.

But Justice is raking in support, and there are nearly 166,000 no-party voters in the county who could make a difference.

It’s widely believed that if the GOP picks up either seat, it will be next to impossible for Democrats to win back their advantage in less than 10 years. If they manage to keep both seats blue, party operatives are hopeful the pendulum will swing back in Democrats’ favor within the next two or three election cycles.

Justice narrowly held onto his seat the last time he was up for re-election, with barely more than 50% of the vote against GOP challenger Tammy Sue Vasquez.

Justice’s campaign touts his work protecting beaches and local estuaries, as well as preserving green space, investing in infrastructure, and making public safety a priority. He said there has been a 63% decline in serious crime countywide.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].

One comment

  • Deplorable Pinellas

    June 19, 2024 at 5:16 pm

    Oh look it’s Janelle obsession with David’s sexuality again. Can’t just call him a Republican can you?

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